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Thursday, June 25, 2009

A “Red Carpet Solution” for Immigration Reform

President Obama announced that he also wants to tackle immigration reform this year –certainly a hot button issue. It’s hard to imagine how he will get the thorny issue of immigration done given all the other items he’s put on the legislative front burner. None-the-less, immigration reform is an important issue, especially for small firms that require guest workers from other countries in order to meet specialized and seasonal business needs.

If he wants to do immigration reform right, the President should take time out of his schedule to meet with Helen Krieble, a small business owner from Colorado and author of the “Red Card Solution.” Her Solution is a pragmatic approach that addresses the underlying issues driving illegal immigration. Helen is in Washington this week briefing policy leaders and congressional staffers about her plan. She also unveiled the new “Red Carpet Solution” documentary at the National Press Club.

Krieble stresses that it is critical to differentiate between the requirements for immigrants applying for citizenship to the U.S. and non-immigrant workers looking solely for employment in the U.S. Her approach to implementing a non-immigrant worker program is practical and efficient.

Features of the plan include:

• Private management of a non-immigrant worker program, which uses powerful incentives for illegals in the U.S. to return to their home nations, and apply for legal admission to work.

• The establishment of employment agencies in foreign countries to perform background checks and link workers to jobs in the U.S.

• These agencies would issue smart cards that track the workers in order to ensure compliance with U.S. laws.

• The solution has a track record in that private companies already issue smart cards and run background checks, and private agencies link employee to employer every day.

Such a system would, as noted above, encourage already-established illegal immigrants to return to their home countries by offering a process to apply to work legally in the U.S. and allowing them to enjoy the securities offered by the law.

The U.S. needs an efficient system that allows workers to legally come to the U.S. for specific jobs and for a specific period of time. “The Red Card Solution” would require them to go through a background check and to return home at the end of their employment. It would give them no special place in the citizenship line.

We don’t need bigger government that penalizes innocent small business owners to make immigration reform work. We need better ideas and a pragmatic approach that addresses the growing global mobility of today’s international workforce. The “Red Card Solution” is such an idea.

Karen Kerrigan

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